I know -- it's very tempting. Go on discount furniture sites such as Wayfair or Rakuten or even Target and you may see stuff you like. Well designed, cute lighting that might look good in your space. And the price will be a fraction of the cost that it would cost you if you sought out the original designer of that light. Even people of considerable means will think twice about paying for a designer-made fixture when a similar looking one is available at a much lower cost. And certainly there is not much difference between original and knock-off in terms of the function of the object: Both of them will light your space just fine.
But before hitting the buy now button for the cheaper option, I'd like persuade you that buying the more expensive chandelier, pendant, sconce, or lamp is absolutely worth the cost. Here's why:
That Cheap Chandelier is Cheap Only Because It is Made in China by the Thousands
There is an area of southern China -- right near the border with Hong Kong -- that makes virtually all the cheap lighting in the world. The only way you can buy a light fixture for under $100 is for it to be one of countless thousands made in Chinese factories and shipped to the west by shipping container.
You Want Something Different
In the world of fine art, collectors look for the unusual, unique thing. If everyone has something, that something loses value. When you pay more money for lighting, you get more assurance that what you are getting comes from artisan studios who are not kicking out the same design by the millions. And because it is not ubiquitous, your chandelier will retain its ability to delight and surprise.
Materials are important
There is all the difference in the world between cheap crystal and good crystal. Most inexpensive chandeliers don't even have crystal. They are made with K9 Optical glass. It looks OK, but is WAY less interesting than proper crystal (we have a separate blog post on chandelier quality, which I suggest you check out). A good chandelier is heavy -- made of metal, not plastic or mylar -- and crystal, not glass or -- heaven forfend! -- plastic.
Lighting is Art
Good lighting is complex. It is about something. The eye lingers on your decorative lighting in a way it doesn't for other objects in your home. If you are going to spend money on a signature item, consider spending it on the lighting, and save elsewhere.
Lighting is the Jewelry of Your Home
Would you wear a $100 engagement ring? Lighting is the first thing people notice in your home -- before the furniture or paintings or rugs or finishes. Why would you bother to buy quality objects when the thing people will notice first -- the chandelier -- is commonplace and cheap? Buy the expensive light and skimp somewhere else.
It's a Small Price To Pay
Think how much your home cost. What's a couple hundred or even a couple of thousand bucks compared to that investment. You can afford good lighting. And you deserve it.